Government plans to reform personal injury claims take common law back to the dark ages, lawyers have said today.
In a long-awaited announcement, the Government proposes removal or restriction of the right to full compensation for pain and suffering as a result of whiplash injuries.
“The right to compensation for an injury caused by someone else’s negligence has been an important aspect of civil justice for centuries, and with good reason,” said Neil Sugarman, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
“In a society where no-one bats an eyelid about claiming compensation for a late train or being mis-sold an insurance policy, the idea that injured people should be treated as some kind of second class citizens simply beggars belief,” he said.
“Why should compensation be denied to, or restricted for, a young mum who was previously perfectly fit but cannot pick up and hold her baby, or an elderly man who can’t get out and about as he used to do before he completely lost his confidence?” he went on.
“That’s what this Government is proposing. And, what’s more, it has not offered a shred of independent evidence to show the need for it.”
The Government has also proposed forcing the vast majority of personal injury victims into a court system better suited to arguments about faulty fridges than bodily injury, according to Mr Sugarman.
“The small claims court is the only legal forum in which injured people have to front the cost of bringing a claim themselves,” he explained.
“This leaves the injured person with three options: to represent himself and hope to be treated fairly in court by the defendant’s lawyers; to pay for legal representation out of his damages, or to abandon the claim altogether.
“So the victim loses twice: once because he has been injured through no fault of his own and again because his rights will have been undermined by these proposed reforms.”